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The happy pill

I had no idea that so many people I know are on Wellbutrin; I guess it’s one of those things people don’t like to talk about.

One of my closest friends said, “Oh, the happy pill! It should make you feel a lot better.”

“What, you’re on it, too?” Nobody ever tells me anything, apparently.

Another one of my friends says it helped her — except for the frequent headaches she now gets all the time. I hope I’m one of the people it helps. Right now, I just feel drugged. I think the doctor’s every-other-day plan is a good one, at least for now. All I know is, politics as practiced these days makes me crazy and I need all the help I can get.

Come on, ‘fess up. How many of you are on/have been on antidepressants?

When a man tells you who he is

Believe him.

Hmm

Nobody told me Wellbutrin makes you woozy. And headache-y.

What Obama should have said

Rich Eskow.

It was a really bad deal

As even Ezra Klein points out:

So why were Reid and Obama so eager to celebrate Boehner’s compromise with his conservative members? The Democrats believe it’s good to look like a winner, even if you’ve lost. But they’re sacrificing more than they let on. By celebrating spending cuts, they’ve opened the door to further austerity measures at a moment when the recovery remains fragile. Claiming political victory now opens the door to further policy defeats later.

And policy defeats are what will matter. The Obama White House is looking toward the Clinton model. After all, Clinton also suffered a major setback in his first midterm, Clinton also faced down a hardline Republican Congress, Clinton also suffered major policy defeats, and yet Clinton, as the story goes, managed to co-opt the conservative agenda and remake himself into a successful centrist. The Obama administration has even hired many of Clinton’s top aides to help them recapture that late-90s magic.

That story misses something important: Clinton’s success was a function of a roaring economy. The late ‘90s were a boom time like few others — and not just in America. The unemployment rate was less than 6 percent in 1995, and fell to under 5 percent in 1996. Cutting deficits was the right thing to do at that time. Deficits should be low to nonexistent when the economy is strong, and larger when it is weak. The Obama administration’s economists know that full well. They are, after all, the very people who worked to balance the budget in the 1990s, and who fought to expand the deficit in response to the recession.

Right now, the economy is weak. Giving into austerity will weaken it further, or at least delay recovery for longer. And if Obama does not get a recovery, then he will not be a successful president, no matter how hard he works to claim Boehner’s successes as his own. Clinton’s speeches were persuasive because the labor market did a lot of his talking for him. But when unemployment is stuck at eight percent, there’s no such thing as a great communicator.

It was really making me crazy last night, all the political operatives and armchair “strategists” saying what a great victory this was. Bullshit.

It’s not just politically stupid, it will cause harm to us all. But hey, “winning the future”!

Taibbi

On Paul Ryan and his budget plan:

Paul Ryan, the Republican Party’s latest entrant in the seemingly endless series of young, prickish, over-coiffed, anal-retentive deficit Robespierres they’ve sent to the political center stage in the last decade or so, has come out with his new budget plan. All of these smug little jerks look alike to me – from Ralph Reed to Eric Cantor to Jeb Hensarling to Rand Paul and now to Ryan, they all look like overgrown kids who got nipple-twisted in the halls in high school, worked as Applebee’s shift managers in college, and are now taking revenge on the world as grownups by defunding hospice care and student loans and Sesame Street. They all look like they sleep with their ties on, and keep their feet in dress socks when doing their bi-monthly duty with their wives.

Every few years or so, the Republicans trot out one of these little whippersnappers, who offer proposals to hack away at the federal budget. Each successive whippersnapper inevitably tries, rhetorically, to out-mean the previous one, and their proposals are inevitably couched as the boldest and most ambitious deficit-reduction plans ever seen. Each time, we are told that these plans mark the end of the budgetary reign of terror long ago imposed by the entitlement system begun by FDR and furthered by LBJ.

Never mind that each time the Republicans actually come into power, federal deficit spending explodes and these whippersnappers somehow never get around to touching Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. The key is that for the many years before that moment of truth, before these buffoons actually get a chance to put their money where their lipless little mouths are, they will stomp their feet and scream about how entitlements are bringing us to the edge of apocalypse.

The reason for this is always the same: the Republicans, quite smartly, recognize that there is great political hay to be made in the appearance of deficit reduction, and that white middle class voters will respond with overwhelming enthusiasm to any call for reductions in the “welfare state,” a term which said voters will instantly associate with black welfare moms and Mexicans sneaking over the border to visit American emergency rooms.

The problem, of course, is that to actually make significant cuts in what is left of the “welfare state,” one has to cut Medicare and Medicaid, programs overwhelmingly patronized by white people, and particularly white seniors. So when the time comes to actually pull the trigger on the proposed reductions, the whippersnappers are quietly removed from the stage and life goes on as usual, i.e. with massive deficit spending on defense, upper-class tax cuts, bailouts, corporate subsidies, and big handouts to Pharma and the insurance industries.

Chernobyl

Uh oh.

Cigarettes and chocolate milk

Rufus Wainwright:

He not only folds, he brags about it

Because really, all Obama cares about is getting reelected. He doesn’t want to talk about the very real trail of human damage his lack of leadership leaves in his wake. He doesn’t care that he continues to empower the Tea Partiers and the fundie extremists by handing them whatever they want — apparently he’s too busy daydreaming about himself as the New Reagan. I don’t even think it’s incompetence. This piece of shit deal passed because these are the policies he wants:

Democrats managed to jettison the policy rider aimed at defunding Planned Parenthood, but they also caved to $6 billion more in overall spending cuts than they previously said they would tolerate. And the final stop-gap spending bill included language preventing D.C. from using tax dollars for abortions.

So far, the media spotlight has focused most intensely on Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and his high stakes balancing act of trying to please his Tea Party base and corral his unruly conference without angering coveted independent swing voters who decide elections and preferred a deal over a government shutdown. In the end, however, Boehner kept his poker face all week and with $39 billion as the final figure, and ended up surprisingly close to his $40 million spending target.

President Obama, who launched his re-election campaign earlier this week, will face some serous fallout. His liberal base, which is still smarting from the lame-duck tax cut deal Obama struck with Republicans in December, will inevitably say he gave up too much ground in reaching a deal and kept his hands too clean in the process — wanting to appear as the “grown-up” and the “referee” — all the while bemoaning being forced into that position by recalcitrant Congressional leaders.

“This feels an awful lot like the tax cut deal,” Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) tweeted near midnight Friday. “I gotta bad feeling.”

In fact, in his remarks announcing the deal Obama boasted about achieving the biggest annual spending cut in history, while referencing the tax-cut deal he struck with Republicans in December.

“A few months ago, we were able to sign a tax cut for the middle class … Now the same cooperation will make possible the biggest annual spending cut in history,” he said.

Some Democrats, especially those in the Senate likely were bristling at those words. For weeks, Senate Democrats have been practically begging and pleading for President Obama to get in the game and directly engage in budget talks — to come to their aid and leverage the full weight of his bully pulpit to prevent Republicans from getting the upper-hand.

“The President needs to play a much greater role in these negotiations,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told TPM in early March. “The President doesn’t want to engage in this fight because it’s really, really hard, because we’re up against a government shutdown and we can’t keep funding the government with these stop-gap measures.”

When asked what Feinstein thought would help Democrats gain an upper hand she was blunt: “Presidential leadership.”

Also, what Echidne said.

Don’t get me wrong

The Pretenders:

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